When you live as an expat the chance to go back home for a visit is a precious opportunity that you jump at. There’s nothing like being able to go home and spend time with your family and friends. No matter where you go in the world, no matter how much you love and enjoy where you’re living, there just isn’t any place like home.
So when you do arrange a trip home you make all of these plans, who you’re going to see, places you’re going to go to, and things you’re going to do. Sometimes you have a full schedule before you even pack your bags. You set off with the best of intentions, but often times what happens when you arrive home is that a different reality sets in. Family always takes the most important role, especially when you have a child. And any plans made with little ones are really just more of a guideline than anything. Things happen, stuff comes up. Maybe the weather wasn’t cooperating one day, maybe the friend you had lunch plans with couldn’t get away from the office, maybe your child got sick so you had to stay home. An endless number of things can come up, so you find yourself changing those plans, and sometimes even just scrapping them.
When you go home you see just how much things change with time. Sometimes many friends have also moved away, and sometimes some friends become more like acquaintances. Not all friendships last a lifetime, and that’s ok, but when you move away the state of that relationship can stay frozen in time, and it’s not until you make a visit back that you realize that things have changed. As an expat, you quickly learn that the best of friends will always be around. They will always be in touch, and they will always jump at the chance to see you even if it’s just for 5 minutes. But the not so close friends tend to fade into the background. They will keep in touch via social media, maybe even by text, but you’ll rarely see them even when you’re back in town. At times it’s a sad realization to come to, but the truth is, it’s rarely a surprise occurrence. If you’re honest with yourself you know which friendships will survive the test of time and which ones won’t. Relationships change, and as an expat it’s very important to invest the effort and time into those that are long distance. That way, when you do get to see your loved ones, it’s like no time has passed at all.
Going home for a visit is always fantastic and special. It’s great to reconnect with family, friends, and with makes you, you. If you’re a new expat don’t be surprised to see changes, and don’t worry about the things that do change. Just make sure you enjoy and cultivate those relationships that you want to stand the test of time.